Self-employment has emerged as a viable option for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). To meet increased self-employment demands, Maryland's Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), in collaboration with the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), adapted services offered through the Reach Independence through Self Employment (RISE) program. The RISE program, funded by DORS, provides technical assistance and financial support to people starting their own businesses.
The Northeast Region Supported Employment Project was developed by the North Shore area office of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services in 2007. This pilot program, open to any individual with ID/DD who wanted to work, emphasized a person- centered planning approach to achieving the individuals' goals for employment in the community. The project emphasized the individual's choice of employment providers, collaboration with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), and use of an independent facilitator to support career and life planning.
In Colorado, counselors from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation are housed on-site in Community Centered Board offices so they can provide direct services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). The goal of the project was to serve 240 customers with ID/DD and provide 134 successful employment outcomes over a two-year period. Streamlined services and enhanced communication emerged through a unique collaborative effort between the two entities.
The Early Start to Supported Employment (ESSE) pilot started in 2005 with the goal of providing a more seamless transition for students who would benefit from supported employment services when leaving school and entering the adult workforce. An interagency project team was established to guide the pilot work and ensure all required parties knew their role and shared information and equal responsibility within the project.
The Tennessee Employment Consortium (TEC) is a statewide organization focused on increasing the number of Tennesseans in integrated employment. The consortium comprises volunteers from the state's Division of Mental Retardation Services (DMRS) and Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, the ARC of Tennessee, the Center on Disability and Employment at the University of Tennessee, community rehabilitation providers (CRPs), family members, and other stakeholders.
In 2009, the state of Oregon adopted its Employment First policy. When Oregon's Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) decided to promote the implementation of this policy, it began by updating its existing employment website. The redesigned website (http:// www.dhs.state.or.us/dd/supp_emp/) emphasizes the value of integrated employment over other outcomes, and the importance of building community-wide conversations, with the goal of achieving integrated employment for people with developmental disabilities.
Oklahoma’s Developmental Disabilities Services Division (DDSD) realized the need for increased attention towards the goal of community-based employment for individuals they served. Initially, rates were based on a vendor’s costs of providing direct services such as job development and job coaching. It became increasingly apparent that claims for vocational services oftentimes reflected staff activities (e.g., job development, client assessment, and service delivery documentation), which may have been occurring without the direct involvement of the service recipient.
In North Carolina, counties have been consolidated into Local Management Entities (LMEs). These entities contract for services with community providers and provide oversight on access, utilization, best practices, and community collaborations. The Mecklenberg County LME established the Best Practices Community Committee, comprising service providers, individuals and family members, advocacy agencies, community partners, interested community volunteers, and LME staff. Sub-committees addressed several areas, including employment.
Michigan's Department of Community Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Administration (MDCH) has expressed a strong desire to improve the state's employment outcomes among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Set against this desire is a major obstacle: Michigan is among the states hardest hit by the continuing economic recession, with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.